Airport honors citizens, first responders who saved officer's life

Officer Collis Boone, family meet heroes for first time, say ‘thank you'

SAN ANTONIO – A grateful San Antonio airport police officer got a chance to say thank you Wednesday to the men and women who helped save his life six months ago.

Officer Collis Boone and officials from the Airport and San Antonio Police and Fire departments held a special ceremony at San Antonio International Airport to honor the heroes' lifesaving actions last August.

"I know my wife and family they want to physically touch you all to make sure you're not angels but all I can say is thank you. There are no other words," Boone told the large audience gathered in the Terminal B ticket lobby.

Boone had just started his night shift around 10:40 p.m. on Aug. 21, 2014 when he suddenly collapsed from a condition known as sudden cardiac death.

"It wasn't sudden cardiac heart attack, or anything along those lines, it was sudden cardiac death," said SAPD Captain Joseph Salvagio. "He was dead before he hit the ground."

Fellow airport police officer Mike Gomez was standing next to Boone and was the first to respond. He made an officer down call, triggering other officers to respond.

Officer Brian Walsh ran inside to grab an automated external defibrillator just as passenger Sergio Pena and his son were driving by.

Pena's son urged his father to get out and help.

"When we saw the officer down he said, 'Dad stop, get down and help him,'" Pena said. "His confidence in me gave me the confidence to go help."

Pena, a respiratory therapist from El Paso, was the first to start CPR.

In minutes he was joined by an off duty SAFD EMT and his doctor wife who had just returned from Colorado. They saw an officer grab the AED and they followed. Soon after that a second doctor who was passing through the airport also joined in.

Together they all took turns performing CPR until Boone was transported to the hospital.

"I think it was meant to be from God," Pena said. "To be there and you know to bring back someone's life back, and especially for his big family he has."

The city honored the following citizens, officers, and first responders: Officer Mike Gomez, Officer Brian Walsh, Dr. David Altman, Dr. Sarah Groff and Robert Groff (SAFD EMT) and Sergio Pena.

Getting to meet the people who saved her husband's life was something Barbara Boone worried might never happen.

"I told Collis, I'll never get to thank those people that saved his life, and I never knew that this day would be coming in our future so it's been wonderful to actually see faces and hug necks and thank them," Boone said.

Officer Boone said was relieved to meet his rescuers and shake their hands for the first time, but there was something else he wanted to do with all of them.

"The biggest thing I wanted was a picture with all six of us, or all the six of them and me because I want to put it on Facebook," Boone said.

Officer Boone was out for 6 weeks before returning to administrative duty last October.  He returned to full duty in early December.

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